Ekateríni Stefanidi tops 4.80m to win in Doha
A multitude of global champions will go head-to-head in the women’s pole vault and men’s javelin at the Doha Diamond League, the opening meeting of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League on 4 May. Organisers also announced that world 800m champion Caster Semenya, fresh off her Commonwealth Games 800m/1500m double victory, will head the field in the longer race.
Doha’s large Greek community will have plenty to cheer for as reigning Olympic, world, European and Diamond League champion Katerina Stefanidi once again leads the field. Stefanidi is expected to face stiff competition from long-time rival Sandi Morris of the US, who defeated the Greek to take gold at the World Indoor Championships last month after successive runner-up finishes behind her at the 2016 Olympic Games and 2017 world championships. The field also includes recently crowned Commonwealth gold and silver medallists Alysha Newman of Canada and Eliza McCartney of New Zealand respectively, 2017 World Championship bronze medallist and 2013 U18 world champion Robeilys Peinado of Venezuela, and 2013 European indoor champion and British record-holder Holly Bradshaw.
Stefanidi has dominated the pole vault for the past two years but it is Morris who has already shown outstanding form in 2018. In March, Morris stopped Stefanidi’s unbeaten streak at 19 when taking the world indoor title in Birmingham with a championship record of 4.95m. Morris also has the better personal best with 5.00m to Stefanidi’s 4.91m, and is one of only three members of the women’s exclusive five-metre club.
Another fascinating showdown will come in the men’s javelin as reigning Olympic champion Thomas Röhler of Germany goes up against all three medallists from London 2017, which includes world champion and teammate Johannes Vetter, world silver medallist and 2018 Diamond League Champion Jakub Vadlejch of Czech Republic, and world bronze medallist and teammate Petr Frydrych. Also in the mix are reigning Olympic silver medallist Julius Yego of Kenya, and another rising star, 20-year-old Neeraj Chopra of India, the 2016 U20 world champion, 2017 Asian champion and record-holder, and recent Commonwealth Games gold medallist.
Last year Röhler wowed the crowds in Doha as he threw a sensational 93.90m Diamond League record to move him to second on the world all-time list behind world-record holder Jan Zelezny. However, just two months later Vetter overtook Röhler to claim the second world all-time position after a 94.44m throw in Luzern. The world champion has continued this scintillating form into 2018 where he has already thrown 92.70m to win the European Throwing Cup in Portugal in March.
Meanwhile, Vadlejch will be looking to get his 2018 Diamond League campaign off to a strong start as he pursues a third consecutive IAAF Diamond League trophy, after winning with a throw of 88.50m in Zurich last year. The Czech also took silver in London with a lifetime best of 89.73m.
Semenya will be difficult to beat in the women’s 1500m off the back of her dominant victories in both the 800m and 1500m at the Commonwealth Games. The South African, a two-time Olympic and three-time world champion in the 800m, added 1500m world bronze to her collection last season, one in which she also claimed the 800m Diamond League title, the path to which began with victory over the distance in Doha.
At the moment her chief competition appears to be Gudaf Tsegay of Ethiopia, the 2016 world indoor bronze medallist and world U20 indoor record holder, Kenyan Winny Chebet, a world indoor 1500m finalist, Rababe Arafi of Morocco, a world and Olympic 1500m finalist, and Eunice Sum of Kenya, the 2013 world 800m champion.
Organisers for the IAAF
2018 IAAF Diamond League calendar
4 May – Doha, QAT
12 May – Shanghai, CHN
26 May – Eugene, USA
31 May – Rome, ITA
7 Jun – Oslo, NOR
10 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
30 Jun – Paris, FRA
5 Jul – Lausanne, SUI
13 Jul – Rabat, MAR
20 Jul – Monaco, MON
21-22 Jul – London, GBR
18 Aug – Birmingham, GBR
30 Aug – Zurich, SUI
31 Aug – Brussels, BEL